Drybrushing Miniatures

Once the figure has dried and you are happy with the base coat and washing, you come to a technique known as drybrushing. In drybrushing the idea is to highlight the raised surfaces by applying a very small amount of paint to your flat brush and then dragging the brush across the grain of the texture. If you do not have much paint on your brush, this will only leave paint on the top of the texture.

Mix the base color with a small amount of white. This is your drybrush color, which represents light shining more brightly off of raised areas of the texture. Wipe the brush on your napkin until very little paint is seen being applied to the paper. You are now ready to drybrush. As with washing, drag the brush across the detail. Don't apply too much pressure or go too slowly or the brush will have time to get down in the shadowy cracks that you just spent all that time washing. The brush should be perpendicular to the figure when you draw it across. If you want to get even more outstanding highlights, mix more white into the base color and repeat, this time brushing even lighter over the details. You can do this two or three times, getting lighter each time until you may even want to drybrush with pure white VERY lightly, though this is often just a bit much. This is a matter of taste, but I tend not to get quite that white, especially for flesh.

After drybrushing, be sure to seal the miniature with a matte spray sealant. It is much better to use several fine coats of sealant instead of one heavy one. Even matte (non-shiny) sprays will often take on a shine if applied too heavily.

air elemental painted drybrushed

This air elemental was done with heavy use of drybrush techniques with a pearlescent white on top of a purple wash.

We should have three colors applied to the figure so far (besides the priming coat). The first is the base coat, which is the basic color applied to an area of the miniature. The second is a wash, a darker version of the base coat which represents shadows or dark recesses. The third color is applied during drybrushing, which represents highlights on areas with the most direct light. The illustration below summarizes the process so far.

cleric colorful painted drybrushed

The armor's highlights on this miniature were drybrushed with silver to bring out the details.

The tough part of painting the miniature is done at this point. I am often lazy when it comes to basing. Basing really sets apart miniatures that look complete, and adds a lot to the overall presentation of the miniature.

Next Topic: Make Your Miniature's Base Look Great >>

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